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Investing in paradise
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Investing in paradise

Once prime livestock grazing land, Paradise Island is now home to some of the most exclusive real estate in the region

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The Bahamas Investor Magazine
July 29, 2016
July 29, 2016
Catherine Morris

In 1698, Lords Proprietors of The Bahamas sold Paradise Island (then known as Hog Island) to Governor Nicholas Trott for £50. Consisting of prime grazing land, and strategically crucial to Nassau’s defence, the island was a valuable piece of property. More than three centuries later, Paradise Island is still sought-after real estate judging by a recent surge in development. Home to the sprawling Atlantis resort and the high-end One&Only Ocean Club, the island has a long history of luring big-name investors. However, in recent years Paradise Island has attracted a different sort of developer–those hoping to capture the high-end residential market.

Pent-up demand
“There is so much pent-up demand on Paradise Island and no new inventory,” says Greg Ulmer, director of marketing and sales for Replay Destinations, which is developing the One Ocean residences on the southern side of the island. “Paradise Island is such an amazing destination. People love the island and want to be there. When [One Ocean] came on the radar, we thought it was a great opportunity. It was a no-brainer.”

Replay purchased the former Ocean Place condominiums in July 2015, securing 52 of the building’s 79 units. The units however were unfinished and the property needed extensive upgrades. Replay is tackling the project in phases, outfitting the units, upgrading the facilities, renovating the common areas and finishing the building’s eight penthouse condos. In total, the company will invest around $15-20 million in One Ocean. “This is a multimillion-dollar project in terms of the sales value,” says Ulmer. “We are making a big investment and will be here for a long time.”

Replay has history in The Bahamas and was keen to expand its portfolio in the islands. “We are very familiar with The Bahamas and we are continually looking for things here,” says Ulmer, who adds that the original property developer was in foreclosure at the time, giving Replay the chance to purchase the building at a good price. “We were able to take something that had been sitting there for a while and was a bit of an eyesore. That meant we were able to put more money into the building. We are able to put in five- star quality and bring it to market for less than our competitors.”

Buoyant market
Ulmer is confident that the market is there. “There are a lot of people looking for nice, new residences in a secure atmosphere. Real estate is a great investment. People always fall back on property and if you can buy in a resort setting it is pretty secure from market fluctuations.”

Replay intends to market the condos abroad as well as locally, relying on well- established connections in international markets. Ulmer says: “We have strong ties in Canada and there’s a market there already. We also have strong ties throughout the southern US. There is a lot of opportunity. Paradise Island is well- known, if you are in Canada or the UK, you recognize it.”

Units at One Ocean start from $750,000 to $2 million. The penthouses will start at around $3 million. Ulmer says these are the standout units, each consisting of two storeys–the upper of which features 12 ft glass walls to capitalize on the view. “One Ocean is the tallest residential building on Paradise Island. These penthouses could be some of the best residences in the Caribbean region,” says Ulmer. “You have unobstructed views all around.”

Design has been paramount in the development of One Ocean. While the team has overhauled the nuts and bolts of the building in a $2 million revamp of the common area— installing new electrics, elevators, air conditioning systems and a generator—it has paid careful attention to the cosmetics, too. “We looked at four different design concepts until we found what we liked,” says Ulmer.

“We went from a traditional to a very contemporary design. We wanted lighter colours to brighten it up and to keep it very clean, with a very serene feel. It is a residential property, so it’s designed for residents and second-home owners.”

In sourcing the best materials, Replay took inspiration from around the world, bringing in furnishings from Italy, Germany and China. Buyers who came onboard in the early stages of the project (Replay has sold seven units and has reservations for 10 more), can select their kitchen from four models, customize their design and, according to Ulmer, could be in their new homes by the end of this year.

Tapping into a brand
Replay isn’t the only investor to recognize the untapped potential in Paradise Island real estate. Aristo Development president Jason Kinsale (pictured, above), who developed The Balmoral residential community in western New Providence and is currently constructing One Cable Beach on New Providence, says Paradise Island is a key part of his company’s real estate portfolio. Aristo, in partnership with Sterling Financial Group, is spearheading Thirty Six, a 38 unit residential community on the eastern end of Paradise Island. The project broke ground in May this year and is scheduled for completion before spring 2018. The $23 million development has already piqued buyers’ interest with 18 units reserved before construction began. “We’d been building in the west and with Paradise Island we wanted to create this triangle and capture everyone’s interest,” says Kinsale. “Response was very strong. There has been nothing new on Paradise Island for so long.”

Thirty Six will include studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments and penthouses. Prices range from $495,000 to just over $1 million and the facility will include a fitness centre, infinity pool, covered parking and full-time property management. Aristo Development’s director of sales and marketing, Matthew Marco, describes the property’s design as clean, modern and fresh. “Our buyers want more of a boutique product. These are people who are very community-oriented; they want a lifestyle.”

Initial interest in the project has been high in Europe, according to Kinsale, who says most are buying to obtain permanent residency and are attracted not only by the country’s favourable tax regime, but also the climate and atmosphere. He also notes interest from locals, wanting to invest in a rental property. Marco believes real estate on Paradise Island will always be a safe investment, thanks to the island’s enduring popularity. “Paradise Island is the best of both worlds–you have the modern infrastructure, but you can still get on a boat and go somewhere where you won’t see a soul. It offers something you cannot find anywhere else,” he says. “It is a complete brand. People throughout the world know about Paradise Island; it has this image to it. There is so much wealth and high-end development that does not exist anywhere else in the world.”

Correction: The Thirty/Six Resort did not break ground in May 2016 as written. Rather, construction is scheduled to begin August 2016.

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